Stakeholders Are Largely Positive on ONC’s Interoperability Roadmap

February 2, 2015 in News

Stakeholder reaction to the Office of the National Coordinator for Heath IT’s draft nationwide interoperability roadmap and its goal to achieve basic electronic health data interoperability by 2017 has mostly been positive, Modern Healthcare reports (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 1/30).

Details of Draft Roadmap

The draft report, titled “Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Draft Version 1.0,” outlined short- and long-term goals for the next 10 years, with 2017 set as the deadline by which “a majority of individuals and providers across the care continuum” should be able “to send, receive, find and use a common set of electronic clinical information.”

Specifically, ONC outlined four short-term actions:

  • Establishing a coordinated governance framework and process for nationwide interoperability based on stakeholder consensus;
  • Improving technical standards and implementation guidance for sharing data;
  • Enhancing incentives for achieving interoperability and data sharing goals that are based on a common clinical data set; and
  • Clarifying privacy and security requirements needed to guarantee secure transmission, access and use of sensitive patient data.

In addition, the document outlined 10 updated guiding principles for achieving nationwide interoperability over a 10-year period based on stakeholder feedback.

ONC is accepting public comment on the draft through April 3 (iHealthBeat, 1/30).


Lee Barrett, executive director of the Electronic Health Network Accreditation Commission, praised ONC’s focus on collaboration between the public and private sectors. Barrett said, “ONC, or the government, is not going to take on that enforcement role. They’re looking for the industry to self-police.” He added, “They want organizations to work with them and the industry to develop the criteria we’ll all use.”

Meanwhile, Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser for the Medical Group Management Association, said, “Certainly the timeline is very ambitious, but absolutely critical.”

However, some stakeholders have criticized certain aspects of the plan.

For example, Joseph Smith — CMO and chief science officer of West Health in California — said the roadmap lacks a plan for device-to-device interoperability. He said, “I think it’s essential to make sure as we push on interoperability we need to make sure we leave no information source behind.” He added that data sharing among medical devices “needs to be wrapped [into the plan] if this is to be an interoperability framework that handles all the issues” (Modern Healthcare, 1/30).

Meanwhile, Dan Haley of athenahealth said that CMS’ decision to issue a rule that would update the meaningful use program to give eligible providers and eligible hospitals more flexibility in meeting program requirements could hinder ONC’s interoperability timeline.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Haley said, “While we agree with some of the proposed changes to the rule … we are a bit concerned with the tone of the announcement. Of course each time standards are lowered and timelines elongated to accommodate technological laggards it gives laggard vendors less and less reason to take future standards and deadlines seriously” (Gold et al., “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 2/2).

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